March 10, 2019


The Genesis of the Tech Industry, and Vice Versa: Humankind's obsession with technology and economics can be traced to the first book of the Bible. (Tyler Cowen, March 5, 2019, Bloomberg)

In the Book of Genesis, the underlying model of economics is a pretty optimistic one, and that is another way in which Western history draws upon its Judeo-Christian roots.

That said, Genesis is by no means entirely positive about the impact of technology. While the Egyptians are relatively wealthy and have a strong state, they end up enslaving the Hebrews, hardly a virtuous outcome. God, rather than telling people to build technology in the style of the Egyptians, gives instructions for building the ark of Noah, and later in Exodus there are instructions for the ark of the covenant. Those technologies are more pointed toward carrying along the will and later word of God, rather than the mastery of nature per se.

The story of the Tower of Babel is the clearest instance of the possible dangers of technology. On one hand, it is striking how much potential productive efficacy is ascribed to mankind. People with a single language are building a tower with a top reaching up to the heavens and "now nothing they plot to do will elude them." God then scatters the humans and takes away their common language, to limit their productive capacity. There is a hint that people are seeking to become the rivals of God, who needs to keep their ambitions in check.

So:  the Egyptians should have developed technology instead of relying on labor; the ark saved Creation from climate change; and Man has it within his power to become a rival of God via IT.  

Posted by at March 10, 2019 4:55 AM